Latour, Bruno

Por nettizen - 11 de Diciembre, 2005, 1:50, Categoría: ANT

* Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory: Bruno Latour (Oxford University Press, 2005).

"Reassembling the Social is a fundamental challenge from one of the world's leading social theorists to how we understand society and the 'social'.

Bruno Latour's contention is that the word 'social' as used by Social Scientists has become laden with assumptions to the point where it has become a misnomer. When the adjective is applied to a phenomenon, it is used to indicate a stabilized state of affairs, a bundle of ties that in due course may be used to account for another phenomenon. Latour also finds the word used as if it described a type of material, in a comparable way to an adjective such as 'wooden' or 'steely'. Rather than simply indicating what is already assembled together, it is now used in a way that makes assumptions about the nature of what is assembled. It has become a word that designates two distinct things: a process of assembling: and a type of material, distinct from others.

Latour shows why 'the social' cannot be thought of as a kind of material or domain, and disputes attempts to provide a 'social explanation' of other states of affairs. While these attempts have been productive (and probably necessary) in the past, the very success of the social sciences mean that they are largely no longer so. At the present stage it is no longer possible to inspect the precise constituents entering the social domain.
Latour returns to the original meaning of 'the social' to redefine the notion and allow it to trace connections again. It will then be possible to resume the traditional goal of the social sciences, but using more refined tools. Drawing on his extensive work examining the 'assemblages' of nature, Latour finds it necessary to scrutinize thoroughly the exact content of what is assembled under the umbrella of Society.

This approach, a 'sociology of associations' has become known as Actor-Network-Theory, and this book is an essential introduction both for those seeking to understand Actor-Network-Theory, or the ideas of one of its most influential proponents."

"Everyone seems to know with what sort of forces and in which sort of materials the social world is made. I have always been struck, on the contrary, by the huge gap between the vast variety of attachments with which people elaborate their different worlds and the limited repertoire we possess in social science to account for them. I found this gap widening even more when I began, thirty years ago, to provide a social explanation of scientific practice. While most people said such an enterprise was clearly non sense; while some of my close colleagues claimed it was, if not easy, at least feasible within the normal limits of the humans sciences, a few friends and I decided to take the enormous difficulties of this task as the occasion to rethink the notions of society and of social explanation. Starting from the new insights of science studies, we have since explored many other domains from technology to health, from market organisations to art, from religion to law, from management to politics. This alternative way of practicing sociology has been called Actor-Network-Theory or ANT. Although it has been widely used, it has also been largely misunderstood — in part because of the ambiguity of the word ‘social’. To clarify those misunderstandings, I thought useful to write an introduction to this small school of thought — or rather to propose my own version of it. In this book I show why sociology may be construed as the science of associations and not only as the science of the social. This reformulation of what is meant by the two terms of ‘science’ and ‘society’ will lead us to revisit several neglected traditions, especially that of Gabriel Tarde. In this book, readers will be offered a different way to fulfil the three duties of sociology: how to deploy the controversies about the social world; how to retrace the means through which they are stabilized; and, finally, how to gain some political relevance."

Introduction: How to Resume the Task of Tracing Associations (accesible en formato html)

Las razones de la hormiga - Una fantasía inspirada por el libro “Reassembling the Social” de Bruno Latour: Doubty (reseña accesible en formato html -muy recomendable-)


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